I recently gave birth to my third child, last October. Being a mother of two already, I figured I knew what to expect when it came to breastfeeding. I was pretty confident because I had struggled a lot with my first and thought I’d already made all the mistakes to be had. I was wistfully wrong…
Rewind to October 2008. I gave birth to my first child and had an episiotomy and stitches. It was a tough labor. Although from start to finish it was short, I spent over an hour pushing. I had broken blood vessels on my face and very sore muscles. I was in a lot of pain and was prescribed some pain meds. The worst part of all is my son was whisked away shortly after he was born because he needed some oxygen. This may have been due to being in the birth canal for so long. I held him briefly but we missed out on that important skin-to-skin contact right after birth that is said to aid in breastfeeding. He didn’t latch on very well and it was really painful. We were off to a rocky start but I persisted.
When we were home every time he would feed I would cry because it hurt so bad. So, I read about it every minute I had. The whole thing was so uncomfortable for me that I would tense my back up to get in a good position. I had back pain day and night making it hard to do daily chores. He was only 6lbs 1oz at birth. He dipped down almost half a lb. that first week, which is normal, but I was still worried. He also had bilirubin build up that needed to be cleared out. On top of that my milk came in and I felt like I had rocks on my chest for days, which just added to the pain. He wasn’t draining the milk well enough and I ended up with mastitis. At the time I was not as educated and took the prescribed antibiotics. They made me feel sick and I didn’t even finish them. I stopped both the pain meds and antibiotics and I was finally more clear-headed.
I saw a lactation consultant a couple weeks later and she seemed to help. I tried new positions and moving his head in the way she recommended to get a good latch. With my milk in full swing, I was leaking everywhere. I had to use a washcloth or hand towel on the opposite breast every time I fed. I used my breast pump often and had my husband feed him with a bottle. Each month became progressively easier though. My milk production evened out and there was less leakage. The holidays were definitely hard trying to visit family and struggling with feeding but I took it one day at a time.
I’m happy to say that I successfully breastfed him for a little over a year. Many times I didn’t think I would make it but I didn’t give up. I’m thankful that no one pushed supplementation on me because I was at a very weak point and I may have given in. It was quite an experience, especially considering I was only 20 at the time.
Fast forward to 2016. I had now successfully breastfed two children over a year and I was ready for the third. I had a glass bottle and a new breast pump. I was armed with reusable nursing pads, coconut oil and lanolin. I had a boppy pillow and snacks by the bed. My daughter was born, much faster than the first two I might add and I was so excited to start breastfeeding. There were no complications and she didn’t leave my side the first night.
Unfortunately, When I brought her to my breast she wouldn’t open her mouth enough. I knew I wasn’t getting a good latch because it hurt quite a bit and progressively got worse. By the time we left the hospital my nipples were burning and bleeding. I was again crying at every feeding, which was every 1-2 hours. I couldn’t believe it! Should I know how to do this. I considered finding another lactation consultant. I watched youtube videos to be sure I hadn’t forgotten what I was doing. I posted on lots of forums. Finally 3 days later I decided to order a nipple shield per recommendations from other moms. It saved my life and my nipples!
I got a small bout of mastitis but I worked it out by feeding often and alternating hot and cold. We used the nipple shield for about 6 weeks and I slowly weaned off of it. My daughter is now 4.5 months and breastfeeding is like a dream. We say she has an insta-latch. I can easily and confidently breastfeed in public. It took a lot to get to this point but it was so worth it!
Did you or do you plan to breastfeed? Please share your experiences below.